Voices from Russia

Monday, 22 October 2012

How the USA will Elect “Obamney”

Here’s a snapshot of Mittens‘ base…


The incumbent American president, Barack Obama, who’s running for a second term, and his Republican challenger Mitt Romney have to go through yet another, third, round of live TV debates ahead of the crucial vote, which occurs on the first Monday of November every leap year. On 6 November, a sophisticated election mechanism, which looks more like a game for rich adults, in which presidential candidates are like Monopoly tokens, will make its last turn before coming to a standstill until the next election season. However, no matter who wins, the general line never changes. Some people joke that the name of the next president is “Obamney”.

The American electoral system has had almost no alterations since its inception in 1787. As it was more than two centuries ago, the election for the President and Vice President is indirect. Firstly, voters in each of the states choose delegates or electors to the Electoral College, consisting of 538 members, equal to the total number of seats in the US Congress, plus three delegates from the District of Columbia. Wyoming, the least populous state in the USA, has three electors in the College, and California, the most populous state, has 55. Most of the states use the “winner take all” principle. Thus, if the Republican Party comes first in some state or another, all the electors from that state will be Republicans. Voters actually vote for a party-list of electors.

The election race begins almost two years ahead of the general election with so-called primaries, or party elections, during which parties or political alliances select potential presidential candidates through caucuses or local conventions. Three months before the final vote, national party conventions decide which of the candidates should run for the White House. Why is it all so complicated? French political observer Dmitry de Koshko said, “It’s a tool of control over people. The old electoral system was preserved for the interests of those who hold the levers of power in politics and the economy, to enable them to maintain their influence and the opportunity to choose candidates”.

Ukrainian analyst Mikhail Pogrebinsky added, “The American electoral system enables the oligarchy to stay at the helm through allegedly democratic means. Someone once said that the difference between elections in the USA and elections in Russia is that, in America, despite ‘choice’ in the elections, it doesn’t matter who wins, because the same élite always rules. In Russia, a lot may change, so the winner is known in advance”. After George W Bush’s lame victory in the 2000 election, many Americans didn’t conceal their disappointment with the American electoral system. The voices of ordinary voters are actually irrelevant, since the entire model of American democracy, including its elections, is a sort of game for the rich.

19 October 2012

Nikita Sorokin

Voice of Russia World Service




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